This article will help high school seniors to understand the various types of applications and respective requirements of each application for the upcoming application season. There are several main types of college applications:
UC application: This application is shared by all UC campuses, with 4 required essays (350-word limit each essay), and no letters of required recommendations by teachers or counselors, except by a few, such as UC-Berkeley, requested by selected students a few months after the Nov. 30 UC application deadline. This application asks for all extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, and also work experience if any. The GPA from grades 10 and 11 is also considered. Students can choose a distinct major for each campus. This application opens around August 1 and is due November 30. This application does not have Early Action or Early Decision options.
CSU Application: The entire 23 campuses of the California State University system shares one application called CSU mentor. This application does not require letters of recommendations nor for students to list their extra-curricular and volunteer background (with the exception of Cal Poly SLO). The CSU only wants to know the student’s academic background (SAT scores, ACT scores, GPA from grades 10-11 only, all college prep work from grades 9, 10, 11, and 12, and college major for each campus. Students can choose a distinct major for each campus. This application opens around September 1and is due November 30. This application does not have Early Action or Early Decision options.
Common Application: This application is shared by over 600 major colleges and universities including the Ivy League, most private colleges and universities such as Santa Clara University and University of Southern California, and some public universities including the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Arizona State University. The primary essay is limited to 650 words. Most campuses using the Common Application also requires supplementary questions ranging from 100 words – 400 words each. For example, if a student applies to 10 campuses using this application, then there will likely be around 20 total supplementary questions. For this reason, students should limit these campuses to 10 – 15 on their final university list. Most universities using this application also requires 1 – 2 teacher recommendations and a counselor recommendation. Due to these various requirements, this application is much more complicated than the UC application. The cumulative high school GPA from grades 9, 10, and 11 is considered. Students can choose a distinct major for each campus. Most universities using this application are due Jan. 1 or after. However, some are due earlier such as the Nov. 1 Early Action and Early Decision deadline, and Dec. 1 for scholarship deadlines for some universities such as the University of Southern California.
Some universities do not use the Common Application. Instead, they require that students to use their own distinct application. Two examples of such universities are MIT and Rutgers.
High School Senior Profile Form/ Secondary School Report (SSR): Every high school has a set of questions, normally through the Naviance account, that the counselor relies upon to write the letter of recommendation for each student. Most high schools also have a set of questions for parents to answer. Each high school sets a deadline for students to finish these questions along with their list of universities in relation to the due date of the universities. For example, if students are applying Early Decision or Early Action due Nov. 1, high schools normally require that these be completed within the first two weeks of September. Please ask your high school counselor for the official deadline for your school.
Naviance Account: This is an online system available at most high schools used by students to enter their university list, answer the student questionnaire for the counselor recommendation letter, and to request teacher recommendations. The Naviance will also link to you Common Application and transfer the university list from your Common Application into the Naviance account. Entering seniors should have this account ready for the application process. Some high schools do not use Naviance and may have another online portal for the purpose of requesting letters of recommendation and requesting transcripts.
High School and College Transcripts: The high school transcript must be sent to each university usually immediately after the application due date if applying regular admission, and by November 1 if applying for EA or ED. College transcripts must also be sent if students attended any community college or university while in high school. High school transcripts are sent out by high school counselors using the secondary school report form (see above) filled out by high school seniors. College transcripts must be requested by the student.
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